Canada’s march to the FIFA 2022 World Cup will continue in September with a pair of friendlies in Vienna, Austria against fellow qualifiers to the quadrennial tournament, the federation announced Wednesday.
Les Rouges will first face World Cup hosts Qatar on Sept. 23 before meeting Uruguay on Sept. 27. The matches follow a tense June window for head coach John Herdman’s squad, which played two Concacaf Nations League games but saw two friendlies (first vs. Iran, then vs. Panama) canceled amid a labor dispute between the players and federation.
The September window is the last international break before Canada enter their first World Cup since 1986, having topped Concacaf’s qualification pathway ahead of the United States and Mexico.
“We have an opportunity to experience two FIFA World Cup opponents within a similar time frame as a FIFA World Cup schedule, so these two matches will provide our players and staff with a chance to rehearse our on- and off-the-field processes and systems aligned to the competition’s three-day turnaround,” Herdman said in a release.
“With the second match against Uruguay, it will be a genuine tier-one test given the depth and quality of their players which gives us an opportunity to evaluate our squad and our approach.”
The window will mark Canada’s first away trip to Europe since March 2018. They’ve never faced reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar at the “A” level, while Conmebol powerhouse Uruguay were last the country’s opponent in February 1986.
At the World Cup, Canada are drawn into Group F alongside Belgium, Croatia and Morocco. They’re led by the likes of Vancouver Whitecaps FC product Alphonso Davies, New England Revolution alum Tajon Buchanan and more.
Canada open World Cup play on Nov. 23 against Belgium, the No. 2-ranked team in the world.